CONCACAF Hexagonal Best XI and Other Thoughts


The United States won the Hexagonal with twenty points, while Mexico gave the best accounting in the second half of the competition, gaining 13 points out of a possible 15 after August. Honduras qualifies for the first time since 1982 (When the World Cup was a 24 team competition), and Costa Rica can feel hard done with 16 points yet being forced into a playoff with Uruguay. Last cycle, Costa Rica qualified directly for the World Cup with fewer points.

Elsewhere in CONCACAF, the decision of both Trinidad and Jamaica to hire two ex-players as Managers turns an important page in the development of Caribbean football. For years, both nations, the two best in the CFU zone, have relied on a revolving door of foreign coaches to lead the national teams. With the elevation of Russell Latapay and Theodore Whitmore to the top jobs, Caribbean Football has moved forward in an immeasurable manner.

Here is my choice for the CONCACAF Qualifying (semifinal and hexagonal stages) Best XI

GK: Tim Howard (USA/Everton)

D: Carlos Salcido (Mexico/PSV ), Oguchi Onyewu (USA/AC Milan), Jonny Magallon (Mexico/Guadalajara), Maynor Figeroua (Honduras/Wigan)

M: Walter Centano (Costa Rica/Saprisa), Wilson Palacios (Honduras/Spurs), Landon Donovan (USA/LA Galaxy), Gio Dos Santos (Mexico/Spurs)

FW: Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica/FC Twente), Carlos Pavon (Honduras/Real Espana)

MIP (Most Influential Player): Walter Centano, Costa Rica

Runner Up: Landon Donovan, USA

Obviously, a great number of other possible footballers could have made this best XI, but it speaks to the deepening pool of top CONCACAF players that the decisions were tough and so many on this list are a “big” clubs in Europe.

Looking ahead, it will be difficult for Costa Rica to overcome Uruguay in the Intercontinental playoff. But it is possible that the Ticos enormous home advantage at Saprissa with a rubber/concrete surface will serve them well against a South American side unlikely to be accustomed to such a ridiculous playing surface.

Mexico enters the World Cup as a side likely the strongest from the region. But as I stated in my highly controversial posting yesterday, Mexico is fortunate to have gotten this far, and has been largely unsporting in the process. That having been said, I would be stunned if the United States or Honduras had a better World Cup than Mexico.

What Javier Aguirre has done in a few short months is deepen the Mexican pool, while giving the young superstar trio of Gio Dos Santos, Andres Guardado and Carlos Vela more confidence and freer roles than they had under Sven Goran Eriksson. Additionally, the backline has looked much stronger than it did under Ricardo LaVolpe, Hugo Sanchez or Eriksson.

One last note: I have been in India now for the better part of two weeks, and have found the lack of emphasis on World Cup qualifying and the International game (other than England’s monster clash with Belarus) to be exceedingly disappointing. At the same time, everyone is waiting for the Premier League to restart this weekend, lamenting how horrible the “waste of time international break” is.

Here in South Asia, Anglophilia runs wild, and if it is not English, it hardly counts as interesting football for most. It’s a pity such a populated country is missing out on what the rest of the world loves.

Another thought. Most Indians do not support their domestic league, because they are mad about Liverpool, Man U or Arsenal. If we ever get to that point in the US, where the English game runs rough shot over our leagues, local clubs and national team we will have lost the battle for good.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

11 Responses to CONCACAF Hexagonal Best XI and Other Thoughts

  1. ChivaDeCorazon83 says:

    hello! long time read first time poster

    i have to say i disagree with your MIP selection. love him or hate him, that should go to Mexico’s #10. he fueled Mexico’s last stand and i don’t see Mexico in the Cup without his influence (be it negative or positive).

    keep up the good work!

  2. soccer goals says:

    I think your choices to include Magallon and Salcido are complete head scratchers. But, then, again the better defenders in CONCACAF did not have strong campaigns this hexagonal.

  3. Tom says:

    Interesting about Costa Rica and the points. However, I’m ready for club football to come back, good MLS action this weekend, and I’m curious to see how Sunderland – Liverpool turns out.

  4. Lars says:

    It’s unfortunate that nobody watches the National Football League in India…

  5. cam'ron says:

    kill yourself.

  6. kevin_amold says:

    Pretty fair. I might say Palacios was included mostly on name recognition, I don’t remember him having a huge impact. That’s the only complaint I have.

  7. sylc says:

    Agree with the best xi with Costly being one I might have included.

  8. Bolacuadrada says:

    This team looks like Argentina. A lot of stars without a coach. Let’s give the coaching position to Carlos de Los Cobos (El Salvador). He dit a great job with a very young set of players.

    • cam'ron says:

      you obviously have no fucking clue what you’re talking about. clearly, by the marked before/after, Aguirre is the best coach of the round.

      P.S.: Kill yourself.

  9. Bolacuadrada says:

    Hey bigmouth Cambron,
    Aguirre came to the easy part of the schedule. The thoughest game were coached by Erickson. Just look at the schedule. Besides, in this region no matter who the Mexican coach is they will always qualify. There is no much merit for a Mexican team coach to be second in CONCACAF. Fanatic.

    • cam'ron says:

      You can barely formulate grammatically correct sentences. No, wait – you can’t. Kill yourself. There was nothing easy about Aguirre’s schedule in comparison to Eriksson’s. You have no idea what you are talking about.

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